Community reacts to closure of beloved Dublin cultural space Jigsaw

Running for over four years, Jigsaw has been hailed as an inclusive and accessible alternative to mainstream nightlife.

A graffiti covered building

Many in the queer community and beyond are dismayed at the announcement that the beloved underground cultural space Jigsaw is closing. The venue, which is located near Mountjoy in Dublin City, was the home of Dublin Digital Radio, the Workers Solidarity Movement and queer performance night Glitter Hole, among others.

In their statement on the closure, DDR said “there wasn’t another dance floor, anywhere, that had the energy it packed into even an average night; the respect that dancers had for each other, the camaraderie on the dancefloor, the feeling of freedom and the luxury of being able to express yourself without limits.”

Reflecting similar sentiments, Glitter Hole commemorated the shutdown with a series of photos on Instagram, saying “It was our home and it was sacred”. Twitter user @nereafercor described Jigsaw as “a safe space for all queer, migrant and lefties”.

The space originally emerged in 2004 as Seomra Spraoi, an autonomous social centre run by a “non-hierarchical, anti-capitalist collective on a not-for-profit basis”. Seomra Spraoi was forced to shut in 2015 after a Garda Síochána raid and was later redeveloped as a gig venue under the name Jigsaw by former participants. Since then, the space continued to be used for social organising as well as cultural events.

In responding to the closure of ‘Jigsaw’, many are reflecting on the closure of other cultural spaces in Dublin. Art and music space   JaJa Studios has been crowdfunding during the pandemic after being threatened with eviction, while in 2019, well known Dublin pub The Bernard Shaw was forced to relocate. Some have also referenced the forced closure of the collective arts centre The Exchange back in 2014.

Many are also speaking of the role rising rents have played in squeezing out alternative or non-profit spaces. In DDR’s statement, they say “having a spaced that nurtured us in our early years made us realise the sterilising effect that high rents are having in this city. Without spaces such as Jigsaw, which give refuge to the counter currents, there will forever be a stranglehold on new ideas, movements and organisations to find their feet in their early stages”.

The Phibsboro-Glasnevin CATU branch also spoke out about this issue on Twitter, saying “property speculation and the relentless commodification of space in Dublin will not provide truly inclusive cultural and community amenities in our city; we have to build lasting alternatives together.”

Though the reaction to the closure of Jigsaw has reflected both mourning and frustration, it has also shown a clear passion and love for accessible community venues that break free from homogeny. Some are hopeful that this passion will drive the creation of new spaces in the future.


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